Specialized team leading fight to contain B.C. wildfire near Kamloops

Specialized team leading fight to contain B.C. wildfire near Kamloops

29 July 2010

published by www.vancouversun.com

Canada — Fire crews have yet to gain control of a wildfire in the B.C. Interior that quickly grew to 110 hectares this week, forcing the evacuation of about 60 homes near Bonaparte Lake, north of Kamloops.

A team specially trained to take command of such massive fires arrived today and is deploying 30 personnel, six helicopters, 11 structure protection unit personnel, and a variety of heavy equipment.

The fire is now called the Mason Lake wildfire.

“High temperatures, low relative humidities and winds are anticipated in the area and will pose a challenge for resources again today,” the Kamloops Fire Centre said.

Fire information officer Elise Riedlinger said air tankers and helicopters were called in Wednesday night to try to suppress the east flank of the blaze, which is closest to a number of seasonal properties.

The crews used fire retardant to try to suppress the flames but it was too dangerous to send in ground crews.

Evacuation orders remain in place for residents living within 1.6 kilometres of Bonaparte Lake. The order is likely to affect about 125 people. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

According to the B.C. Fire Service, strong winds Wednesday night threatened to fan the flames. Also, a recent pine beetle kill in the area left a number of dry, dead trees, said Michaela Swan, another fire information officer.

Meanwhile, a lightning storm swept through the south Okanagan on Wednesday evening, prompting more than 100 fire reports from the public.

The most visible of these fires is a 10-hectare blaze spreading slowly today on the Joe Rich Forest Service Road between Kelowna and Big White. The fire was reported shortly after 2 a.m. and the suspected cause is lightning, the Kamloops Fire Centre said.

A 53-hectare brush fire continues to burn in Barnhartvale, on the southeast edge of Kamloops.

A discarded cigarette, sparks from a hydro pole and a random lightning strike are among its possible causes, a fire investigator said.

The blaze is 100 per cent guarded and 85 per cent contained, but at least 175 people remained on evacuation alert, including 75 residents of the River View Campsite and RV Park, who were forced from their homes for close to nine hours at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The Jade Mountain Wildfire in the Yalakom Valley is still estimated at 1,000 hectares in size and is being battled by 125 firefighters, five structure protection unit personnel, 11 helicopters and 19 pieces of heavy equipment.

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